In order to study the Bible effectively--or study it at all for that matter--we need motivation. First, we have to love God. Really love Him...more than ourselves.
Ooh, ouch. You mean if I'm not studying the Bible, I love myself more than God? Well, yes, that's what I mean...unless you have a colicky baby and there's no relief right now. Life is like that at times, but those seasons are short, thankfully.
I love you, Lord. Help me study your Word. Help me glorify you with my time.
Motivations for Studying the Word:
~ To express your love for God.
~ To be with the One you love.
~ To glorify God by your changed heart and life. A changed heart comes from absorbing and applying the Word, via the Holy Spirit's work in you as you study.
~ To spread the Gospel effectively. We are called to share our faith. It isn't just a good idea, but a command.
~ To ensure a solid foundation of lasting faith in your children. Only God can save someone, true. But any faith your children leave home with will falter and water down quickly, and they will go the way of the world, if they don't have solid Bible study and prayer practices in place. Bathe them in the Word and in prayer, and by your modeling, show them how to bathe themselves in the Word. We. must. get. this. right.
~ To experience the peace and joy so often talked about among Christians. That peace and joy? It isn't automatic; rather, it's a direct result of our time with the Lord. No devotional time = no peace and joy.
~ To finish the race well...and even leave a legacy. Jesus will have such an embrace for us when we get to Heaven. Think on that. Don't we want to do Him (our Father) proud? And our legacy: Our life message of devotion to God will remain with our family for generations. We may very well be their inspiration, as they share stories about how much mom or grandma loved the Lord and how that played out in her everyday life. Let's leave behind an amazingly strong message about loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind. Wanting to leave a legacy isn't about ego. It's believing that life is a gift from God...not to be wasted in worldly pursuits. A wasted life is a slap in the face to our gracious, loving God. We must seek to honor Him.
How to Study the Bible:
This is, of course, a huge topic. There are so many ways, with many books and articles to help us. Here, I offer basics.
1. Choose a time and say it's God's time...then don't mess with God's time. I'm a night person, so my time is after the kids go to bed and the kitchen is clean. If you only open the Bible in church on Sunday, then start with a goal of 3 study days a week. Then the next week, study for 4 days, and so on, until you're studying 7 days a week. It will grow on you, believe me.
2. Gather your tools and keep them together:
~ Your Bible -There are many translations of the Bible, but not all are best for study time. Try American Standard Version, or New American Standard Version, or King James Version, or New King James Version. These versions point us to the most literal meanings, but any version you presently have will do fine for now. Comparing translations will also help solidify meanings for us. Reading online, it's easy to see many versions at once.
~ You need a concordance, and a Bible dictionary. Both are found in one book if you obtain “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” ($25.49 at Christianbook.com). You can use the online version here. Below I've pasted a product description of this book from christianbook.com.
~ You need a journal - Record the major themes of the chapter, the major passages to memorize, and what principles you can apply to your life.
3. Read a whole book, rather than skipping around daily.
God deserves a solid Bible study time from us. Pick one book and resolve to learn it thoroughly, before moving on to another book. Pretend that by the end of your study, you have to give an overview of the book to a sixth grade class.
Start with a who, what, where, when introduction for each book you read, which you can find in many study Bibles, or by searching online for "introduction to the Book of James".
Read the book several times before moving on. The first two times, read it through without intensive study, to get an overview of major themes. In subsequent readings, look up words and try to understand them fully. Keep notes in your journal.
If you already know the Bible fairly well, you might want to do some topical studies for a change. For example, study love, or faith, or marriage, etc.
4. Start and end every session in prayer. Remember that every time you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit is right there. He opens your heart and helps you understand. He makes it personal for you...for the place you're at in your Christian walk. Always start in prayer, thanking God for His Word, and asking Him to nourish you and give you clear understanding. When you are done, thank God for this time with Him, and ask Him to help you remember and apply what you learned.
God bless you as you study and grow more in love with Him!
Sharing also with We are That Family WFMW